Anger, fear, anxiety, excitement, and general nerves can make us sweat. It’s part of the sympathetic nervous system, or that “fight or flight” response to stress. But when you’re nervous about your sweating, worried that others may think you sweat too much, becoming embarrassed and anxious and sweating more, it might be time to talk to your dermatologist.
A lot of people wonder whether their sweating is abnormal. About 1 in every 33 people sweats excessively with a condition known as hyperhidrosis. There are so many external and internal factors at play that the line between normal and abnormal isn’t always clear, though. For instance, if you live in a warm climate, your body may have adapted to sweat more. If you live in, say, Houston, you may feel as though you sweat a lot. Most people would not picture Houston as a “tropical” place, but it is actually labeled as a humid, subtropical climate. The heat and moisture in the air may simply give you the impression of sweating more than what you might consider “normal.”
So when is it time to talk to a dermatologist? If you aren’t an Olympic athlete, and you didn’t just eat a Thai chili, but you find yourself sitting in a climate-controlled home or office and you’re just sweating, it’s excessive. If you have to change shirts throughout the day because of saturation during simple, daily activities such as walking, eating, or even sleeping, you may be in that 3% of the population who sweat excessively.
Although sweat comes from glands within our bodies, there is a lot dermatology can do to relieve excessive sweating. Clinical trials by manufacturers such as Allergan, the maker of BOTOX® Cosmetic, and dermatologists at the Center for Skin Research in Houston have shown that BOTOX injections are capable of reducing underarm sweating. The dermatology experts in Houston use the Hyperhidrosis Disease Severity Scale (HDSS) to measure results. They found in a recent study that 81% of patients treated with BOTOX achieved more than a 50% reduction in sweating. Although BOTOX is not a permanent solution for hyperhidrosis, it is a great alternative to surgery and offers measurable results for patients with a simple visit to a dermatologist’s office.